- The Washington Times - Friday, July 21, 2000

Remember Rosita

Mozambique Ambassador Marcos Namashulua appealed for aid after members of Congress Thursday met a 4-month-old baby girl who was born in a tree during savage floods in the southern African nation.

Mr. Namashulua said "Baby Rosita," born March 1, has become a symbol of hope for his devastated country.

"Do not forget Mozambique," he said. "We still need your help. Through the Congress, we need some of that help so that we can rebuild our country, build roads, schools, hospitals and of course all of infrastructure destroyed in the floods.

"Now is a time of action, and Baby Rosita came here exactly to make people remember, not forget, Mozambique."

Mozambique has requested $13 million in international aid to help flood victims and $50 million to help rebuild the country.

Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, who has helped focus attention on Mozambique, accompanied the baby and her mother, Cecilia Chirindza, to a Capitol Hill news conference.

"We need to help Mozambique with its reconstruction. I believe it's a moral imperative," said the Georgia Democrat who serves on the House International Relations Committee.

The flooding in February and March killed an estimated 700 people in the south and center of the country and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

The disaster has helped focus attention on Africa, a continent "neglected for so long in our foreign policy," said Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat.

She has introduced a bill to cancel debt owed to the United States by Mozambique and other southern African nations that were also damaged by the floods.

"Baby Rosita's future cannot be secured unless we help, and the way that we can help is by providing full debt relief to Mozambique," Miss McKinney added.

Border talks

The Organization of American States Thursday offered to help settle a border dispute between Guatemala and Belize that dates back more than 200 years.

Senior government officials from the two Central American countries signed a framework agreement that commits them to adopt confidence-building measures that include face-to-face meetings and avoid actions that could lead to open conflict, our correspondent, Tom Carter, reports.

Earlier this year, Guatemala accused Belize of burning and ransacking several fields in the disputed border area, leaving several people dead.

"It is a very important agreement," said Assad Shoman, a senior ambassador from Belize. "Agreeing to mediation, independent involvement is necessary if we are going to make progress."

Gabriel Orellana Rojas, Guatemala's foreign minister, agreed, calling the signing "historic."

Guatemala, which only recognized Belize as an independent nation in 1991, had claimed more than half of Belize.

The dispute over 4,400 square miles goes back to the late 1700s. Spain, then the colonial power in the region, gave Britain logging rights after failing to force British settlers out of the territory.

Britain later expanded into Guatemalan territory. The area east of the Mayan ruins at Tikal has been in dispute since then.

Angry Liberia

Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering angered Liberian President Charles Taylor this week when he complained about Liberia's support for brutal rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Mr. Pickering, on a visit to the capital, Monrovia, said Washington is "deeply concerned" and "saddened" because Liberia is trading arms for diamonds from the rebel-held areas.

He warned that the "consequences could be many," including the "imposition of sanctions," unless Mr. Taylor changes his policy.

The Liberian leader on Wednesday denounced the United States for trying to dictate the foreign policy of the small West African nation, originally founded by freed American slaves.

"The days when Washington could pick up a telephone and give instructions to Monrovia are over," said Mr. Taylor, who denies he is involved in helping the rebels. "Liberia will not respond to threats from any country, no matter how big, how powerful."

The Revolutionary United Front has been battling the government of Sierra Leone since 1991 and has engaged in the wanton killing and mutilations of civilians.

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